Our society is “go, go, go” and to put it plainly- this really isn’t good for us. Anxiety, depression, and burnout rates are incredibly high. Research consistently shows us that these issues have a big impact on sleep, which means many of those same people need medical intervention to get the restful sleep they need. Before you reach out to get prescription sleep pills, you should know there is often a much better alternative.
For one, you should always ensure your bedroom is set up as a sleep oasis. This means it is dark, cool, quiet, and has a high-quality mattress you find to be comfortable and supportive. You should also make sure you’re eating a healthy diet and getting daily exercise. If you’ve done this and you still lie awake worrying about what stress tomorrow will bring, is there a more natural and healthy way to solve the problem than taking a pill? In fact, in many other cultures, there is. How do Western cultures and Eastern cultures approach health and wellness differently? Could your sleep be improved by thinking “outside the box” a little bit?
In order to find out, we spoke to the experts at Lotus Blossom Clinic in Fort Myers, Florida. They have served the Southwest Florida community with these services since 2007. This holistic clinic offers a variety of natural, alternative healing modalities, including acupuncture, functional medicine, energy healing, and more. Their providers have over 150 years of combined experience. This is why we thought Dr. David Martin, a Licensed Acupuncture Physician with more than 20 years of experience practicing medicine, would be the perfect person to ask these all-important questions!
Dr. David Martin believes that health is within each of us and that sometimes we become blocked or travel down a path which creates what we in the West call a disease. His practice draws from both ancient and modern practices such as acupuncture, acupressure, herbal and homeopathic remedies, therapeutic massage, energy medicine, functional medicine, and using food as medicine.
How do Western cultures and Eastern cultures approach overall wellness differently? According to Dr. Martin “Western cultures, in general, tend to view our bodies as separate parts. For example, in the West, the thinking tends to be ‘My eye problem is only in my eye.’ In Chinese Medicine there is a connection via a Meridian Channel that connects to your little toe on each foot. If you have an eye problem, your acupuncturist is quite likely to put a needle, the width of a human hair, in a specific spot in your little toe, and the healing begins!” This concept makes a lot of sense when you think about how it relates to sleep. If you eat a large, carb-filled meal late at night, this doesn’t just affect your stomach; it also affects your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.
So, what can be done about it? You can begin by honoring your circadian rhythm. Let's not forget, sunlight literally resets our body's circadian clock! Sleep experts will tell you that the hours between 10 pm and 2 am provide the most benefits of restoration, repair, and “cellular garbage removal.” This means you need to get sunlight into your eyes in the morning, preferably before 10am. Dr. Martin’s suggestion is to take a morning walk. “At this time of the day, the sunlight has the most infrared light rays (healing) while in the afternoon there are more ultraviolet light rays (damaging)” he says.
For at least 20 to 30 minutes, enjoy nature at its fullest, without sunglasses. Wear a hat with a brim for shade but allow the natural light directly into your eyes. Why? According to Dr. Martin, “Many people have no idea we share some of the same photoreceptors in our retina as insects, plants and algae, and we have tiny plants in the rods and cones of our eyes. We actually photosynthesize light into energy through these microscopic bacteria-like plants in our eyes!”
It’s not just your eyes that help get your circadian rhythm back on track. Expose some of your skin as well for optimum Vitamin D absorption. Cholesterol gets converted into Vitamin D from sunlight. There are many large and very recent studies which shed light on the importance of Vitamin D in preventing all manner of diseases. Sleep disruptions are included!
It's easy to fall into a disrupted sleep pattern and think you’ll never find a way out. That just gives you one more thing to be anxious about! Too many people do not often realize how having sunlight and time spent in nature can positively affect their body rhythm. If you want to get back into a natural routine, the answer is to spend more time in nature. It is what your body is craving!
If your body, mind, and soul need a little outside help getting back on track, acupuncture has been shown to help. If you prefer not to have needles, or you are doing it yourself, Acupressure involves using physical touch to stimulate pressure points that correspond to different aspects of physical and mental health. Acupressure has been around for thousands of years, but experts only recently started to evaluate its effectiveness as a medical treatment. The results are promising. For example, a 2010 study involved participants in long-term care facilities who had trouble sleeping. Their sleep quality improved after five weeks of acupressure treatment. The benefits even lasted for a few weeks after they stopped receiving treatment!
Isn’t it time you give your body the revitalization and nourishment it needs? It all begins by waking up on a supple, yet supportive luxury mattress. Start your day in a way that is positive and mindful. Then, make conscious choices to do things that will improve your mental and physical health, which means everything from speaking positively to eating well to taking a 30 minute walk each morning. When you are spending time focusing on the natural world, like sunlight and greenspace, your life will be more rewarding, you’ll have less stress, and you’ll sleep better!